The City of Kettering, Ohio, put up signage for bike routes, including the K4 (which crosses East and West) and the K7 (links Wilmington Pike with Forrer Boulevard), in recent years. These routes help navigate cyclists to different areas of the city and link up to larger trail networks that could lead you anywhere from Dayton to Lake Erie to Manhattan, NY, or even Seattle, WA. This shows just how important local is, right? (VOTE!) I grew up in Kettering and have called this suburban landscaping home for much of my adult life, that said, I never paid too much attention to the assigned routes as I plotted my own directions around town from experience.

Last week we had a little staycation time and we decided to follow the routes strict on a shopping trip to the Valley Thrift Store for some HiViz clothing. After some mapping that was very easy to use thanks to the Bike Kettering website we set out to check signage, find out if we were really expected to ride on some of the area’s busiest roads, and revisit at least five different addresses that at some point or another I dwelled at. The weather was pleasant and Kettering road riding beckoned. Here’s what we found.

We live in a deep southwest pocket of the city and started our ride where Big Hill Road intersects South Dixie Drive. I find that it’s best to get the tough stuff out of the way early with Tracy and climbing Big Hill east between Southdale Drive and Laurelwood Road was definitely tough stuff. My cycling apps put this climb at close to a quarter mile and between a 6 to 9% grade. I consider this doable for anyone physically fit that may also have a death wish. The distance, zero shoulder, blind curves, and rude, speeding traffic render this section worthy of skipping. I recommend taking an alternate route whether you are traveling East or West. I was riding so slow that I was zig zagging near the edge before I finally just fell over (I wasn’t hurt) and we walked to the top. Cars passed with no remorse for proximity to us and seemingly no cares for oncoming traffic on the blind hill/ curve. The fact that no accident occurred is dumb luck. Check out this video clip to see why I won’t be back.

 

I recommend this alternate route. There is one hill when you turn onto Winding Way toward Far Hills Avenue that matches the previous grade but it is short and straight.

 

Once through, I discover Winding Way is a comfortable ride. The road gets a little narrow in some parts but the traffic is both light and courteous. I suspect these drivers live here versus those simply cutting through on Big Hill. The next section of the K4 puts you on Far Hills for a short sprint to Lincoln Park. Far Hills is a very wide road here with plenty of lanes for the typically heavy traffic. Experienced riders may pop out and blast through the southbound lanes for a quick left turn onto Lincoln Park. For the rest of us, I recommend crossing at the light and riding the doublewide sidewalk path south to this turn. Keep a sharp eye for cars exiting the lots as you go because they will tend to drive into and stop in your path all while looking the opposite way to pull out onto Far Hills. I’ve been hit by cars doing this in the past so watch it! We took the road down to Rockhill Avenue and then the sidewalk back up to Lincoln Park on accident and I would not recommend it.

Lincoln Park is big and wide and slow and passes right by the Police Station where drivers are on their best behavior. The scenery is gorgeous with lush greenery, active pedestrians and sculpture art. East of Ackerman is mellow and the K4 turn to Oakmont Avenue is easy to miss. The video shows the little tiny signage. If you find yourself at Marshall Road you can either turn around or head towards Devon Avenue on the North Marshall Road section that cuts through the neighborhood.

Once you cross Wilmington the signage is prevalent and the ride is smooth sailing down to Valleywood Drive.

At Valleywood we turned North on the K7 and headed towards Smithville Road.

The K7 traverses mostly neighborhood streets before intersecting Wilmington Pike and flowing into Smithville Road. This is a notoriously busy stretch that includes an intersection with a high speed throughway. I was worried about this section to say the least. I hadn’t paid any mind to the area because I generally cut through the Kettering Business Park and hit Forrer Boulevard direct. Not this time. I gotta say, I was rewarded with a wonderful multi-use path that was clean and well paved. The path made getting along both easy and fast.

Once we made it to our next turn I was surprised to see that the road and bike lane were completely engulfed in construction. Thinking about the path that just brought me here I couldn’t complain about this new work. I believe we will soon see a revived road with what I expect to be well marked bike lanes.

We cut over to Van Buren Village and snaked our way down to Culver Avenue where we turned north back on the K7 and rode it to Patterson Boulevard where it officially ended. We hopped over both Patterson and Watervliet and then shot down the hill before turning right and following the Iron Horse Trail to Woodman. The sidewalk does not connect to the Valley parking lot so we walked our bikes a short way through some tall grass before arriving.

I found a $2 neon orange T shirt and we filled our water bottles at the fountain before getting back on the roads and returning. We went home a different route to cut some time off the trip because I just had to take too many pictures and video on the way here… pffft.

All in all we enjoyed a great ride. I saw parts of Kettering that I hadn’t been through in years. Oh… the memories! And I felt safe riding the roads everywhere except that initial hill. Kettering is welcoming to cyclists and I’m proud of the work they’re doing to keep our roads open to healthy lifestyle activities and disabled folks like me.

Kettering has just shy of 58,000 residents with 250 miles of paved roads and is located in Montgomery County, Ohio just south of Dayton proper. Kettering is only a quick ride to both regional and national trails including the Great Miami River Trail, the Little Miami Scenic Trail, the Underground Railroad Route Network (UGRR), the Ohio to Erie Trail (OTET), the Great American Rail Trail (GART) and the BR50.

Thanks for reading,

Jeffrey

 

Jeffrey McElfresh
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